Dental Disease in Dogs - what to look for
They say the best way to a dog's heart is through their stomach, so we had better take care of those mouths, too! Dental and periodontal disease in dogs is alarmingly rife, and while dogs might not have such rigorous morning & night routines as we do, their oral health can be a gateway to their overall wellbeing, and needs well looking after.
Not only can dental disease be painful and very smelly for those around them, it can lead to other health issues with their kidneys, heart and weight.
We wouldn't expect to eat our meals every day and go without brushing our teeth. The idea of allowing food and dirt to build up in our mouths is unheard of, and we consider it part of our essential hygiene to brush twice daily. Exactly the same is applicable to our dogs, who eat their daily meals & treats, but have no way of cleaning away the excess each day on their own.
As plaque (saliva, food & bacteria) collects and build up on the teeth, they form a hard brown tartar, which in turn damages their teeth, causing their gums to become enflamed and allowing trapped bacteria to enter the blood stream.
As well as a lack of cleaning, a poor diet is a large contributing factor towards oral health. The issues plaque and tartar create are exacerbated by low quality dry food that is much more likely to leave residue between the teeth after each meal.
It is a MYTH that the friction of chewing kibble helps to clean teeth. Do your teeth feel cleaner after eating a bowl of dry cheerios?
Provide your dog with hard and natural chews that grind away at plaque and tartar and leave no residue behind themselves. Long lasting and tough chews are a great way of encouraging your dog to clean their own teeth while enjoying the process itself!
Ask your groomer to inspect their teeth during their next bath or groom to assess their oral health. They will be able to offer routine cleaning or advise the best course of action for their individual case
What to look for
Keeping a close eye on your dog's oral health is pivotal to detecting early signs of discomfort or infection;
Halitosis (bad breath)
Pain or difficulty eating i.e. chewing on one side of the mouth
Plaque and tartar
Red, inflamed, bleeding gums
Wobbly, missing or broken teeth
Preferring soft food to biscuits
A swelling on the face (can indicate an abscess)
Pawing at/rubbing the mouth/face
Blood stained saliva